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The Difference Between Photography Prints & Fine Art Prints - The Stackhouse Printery

The Difference Between Photography Prints & Fine Art Prints

As a professional photographer or artist, the use of technology can benefit your artistry in more ways than one. Over the years, printing has become a medium that allows you and others to appreciate your showcased work.

While printing your work is one of the best ways to grow as an artist, knowing the difference between photography prints and fine art prints before commencing a project is key. Continue reading to learn more!

What Is a Photography Print?

A photographic print refers to images created through exclusive printing processes. Photography printing is a method that uses digital files, like photos or film, and transforms them into physical prints seen in showcases, exhibits, and displays.

The term refers to chromogenic silver halide prints from a process introduced in the early 1940s. The chromogenic printing process involved a reaction between two chemicals, producing the colors seen in the finished illustration.

What Are the Types of Photography Prints?

Many professional photographers are aware of the different types of photographic prints since there’s a chance they’ll work with a collector in the future.

There are plenty of printing techniques to choose from; however, below, you’ll discover information about the three main categories, the materials used in each method, and how it affects your finished product.


A staple in the photography realm, photo prints are the go-to selections for most photographers. This medium is refined, flexible, and easy to achieve. Photo prints typically require special-grade paper and ink to produce a lightweight, cost-effective product that showcases your image at a high quality.

Paper photographic prints often use vibrant shades and hues to create a realistic image void of tone distortion. Most photographic prints are available in various sizes, depending on the project. Given the durability of paper as a material, you’ll note the fragility of these prints.

In this case, it helps to add a frame to protect your high-quality print from accumulating fingerprints, dust, scratches, and other wear.


As another popular choice in today’s art world, metal printing offers a modernized take on the printing process. This medium offers the same high-definition aesthetic as a paper print would, with the sole difference of the image imprinting on an aluminum panel.

The final result is a sleek masterpiece that displays images in a new way. Metal prints are typically more expensive than paper options as they require different materials; however, this medium can handle a great deal of wear.


Lastly, canvas prints are elegant pieces that bring forth an element of sophistication, whether as part of an exhibit or a collector’s personal catalog. You’ll notice that canvas prints typically start unrolled before undergoing stretching over a wooden frame.

Canvas prints incorporate a unique texture to your photos, ultimately giving them an interesting three-dimensional aesthetic. This medium focused on a lack of glare, making them a displayable option in any location.

Canvas photography prints are substantially durable; however, it helps to follow proper protocol when hanging and displaying to avoid fading and ruining their integrity.

What Is a Fine Art Print?

Fine art prints are products made with specific materials to achieve a sophisticated illustration you would typically see at a gallery or museum. These types of prints often require a high-quality inkjet printer to ensure a clear, superior image.

The printing method can create illustrations that are fade-resistant and stand the span of time. As a result, you’ll notice that images won’t age, turn yellow, or crack.

As mentioned before, fine art prints are popular with museums, galleries, and other locations wishing to preserve their artwork and photographs for decades.

What Are the Types of Fine Art Prints?

Fine art prints often produce original works of art; however, paper isn’t the sole medium when achieving illustrations. You can divide printmaking into four categories: intaglio, relief, stencil, and planographic. Below, you’ll discover a few printmaking techniques and their history.


Engraving is an older method of intaglio printing that involves carving metal. Artists would spend time learning how to reproduce quality work without the option of error, making it one of the most challenging methods to master.


Etching is another method of intaglio printmaking, and the process would use acid or mordant to dissolve unprotected parts of metal during a design. This process would eventually become more popular than engraving due to its simpler steps.


Woodcuts were one of the oldest types of relief printmaking and used wood while printing from a raised surface.


Lithography was one of the first planographic methods used in printing. This process would use a stone or metal plate and ink-resistant material to create a non-image portion within the design. Afterward, artists would ink and press the metal to a surface to create their illustrations.


As a standard form of printmaking, digital printing takes an image and prints it onto a preferred surface. It’s also not limited to paper; surfaces can also include cloth.

What’s the Difference Between Photo Prints and Fine Art Prints?

The main differences between photography prints and fine art prints are the materials used during each respective process.

As mentioned previously, fine art prints use the highest quality inks and paper when creating a high-resolution image made to last.

Photo Paper vs. Fine Art Paper

The difference between standard photo paper and fine art options lies in the composition of the material itself. Fine art surfaces often use natural fibers, like cotton or alpha cellulose; the paper doesn’t contain chlorine or acids that would cause photos to fade, crack, or become discolored.

This feature also allows fine art prints to emphasize an illustration’s details, like intense colors and marked contrasts.

On the other hand, photo paper tends to have a glossier finish that prevents images from obtaining scratches easily. Photography paper, combined with chromogenic materials during the printing process, can enhance dark shading for a contrasted and saturated finished effect.

Physical printing produces mementos of captivating beauty and art. Whether capturing the moment through camera or paint, knowing the difference between photo and fine art prints allows you to produce realistic representations of your work.

When it comes to photography printing or art printing, consider working with us at The Stackhouse. Our professionals can help your pieces shine at their best while preserving their quality during your next showcase.

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